Jodi S. Cohen is a reporter for ProPublica, where she focuses on stories about schools and juvenile justice. Her stories have uncovered the misuse of seclusion and restraint in Illinois public schools, exposed systemic problems in Michigan’s juvenile justice system after a girl was incarcerated during the pandemic for not doing her online school work, and revealed misconduct in a psychiatric research study at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a college financial aid scam. She is based in Chicago.
A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic with limited in-person learning, staff at Illinois schools secluded and restrained students more than 15,000 times during the 2020-21 school year, new data shows.
Has your family faced financial hardship as a result of a delinquency case? We’d like to hear from you.
Bill Banning Locked Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Illinois Schools Stalls as Lawmakers Run Out of Time
Illinois lawmakers pledge to try again to prohibit what one called “horrific and barbaric” methods of controlling students.
Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School
Michigan’s juvenile justice system is archaic. Counties act with little oversight, and the state keeps such poor data it doesn’t know how many juveniles it has in custody or what happens to them once they’re in the system.
Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to ban schools from using physical restraints that can restrict students’ breathing, and from using isolated timeout. ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune last year revealed the harms of these practices.
New Data Shows the Use of Seclusion and Restraint Increased in Illinois Schools During the 2017–18 School Year
As lawmakers prepare to debate a statewide ban on seclusion and restraint, Illinois schools reported using seclusion — the practice of forcibly isolating a student in a small room or other space — at least 10,776 times in the 2017–18 school year.
“Your past does not define you,” Grace said in her first public event. The Michigan teen’s case sparked national outrage and the #FreeGrace campaign after she was sent to juvenile detention for not completing online schoolwork.
Fighting — and adapting to — the coronavirus in Illinois has been costly. So far, state agencies have spent more than $1.6 billion in federal and state COVID-19 funding since late March, buying everything from face masks to Subway sandwiches.
As educators and parents assess the risk of returning to the classroom, some felt frustrated by the lack of public data about COVID-19 in schools. After a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation, the state will start publishing the data.
More children are testing positive for COVID-19 than they were between March and mid-August, when schools shut down. As parents weigh the safety of in-person learning, Illinois has not published information about the virus’s spread in schools.
¿Son seguras las escuelas y las universidades en Estados Unidos? ¿Los alumnos realmente aprenden? Ayúdenos a saber más.
ProPublica está cubriendo la reapertura de escuelas, colegios superiores y universidades durante COVID-19 y necesitamos su ayuda. Cuéntenos acerca de la seguridad, el ámbito académico, las colegiaturas y el acceso al aprendizaje.
Case Closed: Michigan Judge Removes Grace, Black Teen Jailed for Not Doing Online Schoolwork, From Probation
The 15-year-old is now free from the court system. In a hearing, an Oakland County judge released her from probation after a caseworker said, “It is best for the family to move forward.”
Grace’s story, first published by ProPublica Illinois, prompted outrage and debate across the country. Though a judge refused to set the girl free, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered her immediate release from a juvenile detention facility in Detroit.
Although earlier this year prosecutors pushed for the detention of a Michigan high schooler during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have now repeatedly said they support sending her home to her mother.
At a hearing Monday, Judge Mary Ellen Brennan denied a motion to release a 15-year-old from a juvenile facility. “I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Brennan said. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”
The Michigan Supreme Court Is Reviewing the Case of a Teenager Incarcerated After Not Doing Online Schoolwork During the Pandemic
Attorneys for a 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention for not doing her schoolwork argued the teenager is not a threat to the community, contrary to a judge’s ruling. Now Michigan’s Supreme Court is stepping in.
Thousands Demand That Michigan #FreeGrace After the Teenager Was Incarcerated for Not Doing Her Schoolwork
After a ProPublica investigation, public officials are pushing for the release of a Black 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention after a judge ruled that not doing her online schoolwork violated her probation. A petition has thousands of signatures.
A 15-year-old in Michigan was incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge ruled that not completing her schoolwork violated her probation. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” said the girl’s mother.
Students in Illinois schools said “I can’t breathe” while being restrained at least 30 times over the time period we investigated, according to our analysis of the records. The practice of face-down restraint is still legal in Illinois.